Tag Archives: freelancing

How to join the freelance revolution

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to join the freelance revolutionMany people we talk to dream of becoming a freelance consultant in their specialist line of work. Recent studies suggest that more and more people are taking up this approach to their careers – both from necessity and desire. So how do you go about becoming a freelancer if you’re still working for the boss?

Australia is currently experiencing a kind of freelance revolution. With jobs being cut and companies keen to hire specialist workforce skills only for certain projects or periods, job security is a thing of the past.

For many people, providing their services via freelancing, consulting or contracting is the perfect situation. Studies already indicate that 30% of the Australian workforce undertakes some kind of freelance work and many are doing this by choice rather than necessity. And it’s not just the younger generation that enjoys the fact they can pick and choose work to focus on. Older workers are also embracing the trend to reduce stress, increase flexibility, take back control of their career and life, and in many situations earn higher levels of income for their difficult-to-find skills and unique levels of experience.

Freelancing is a great option for many people wanting to escape the grind of a regular full-time job, but it isn’t for everyone. So what can you do to get started?

  • Understand your reasons why: If you’re doing it because you hate your job or boss, you want to work less hours or earn more money – it’s probably not the right decision. While it’s ok to have long term goals of working less, earning more and not having to answer to anyone, in the short term this is rarely the case. You need to be very good at what you do and passionate about doing that for others on a daily basis if you’re going to succeed as a freelancer.
  • Work out your offer: Being great at what you do and knowing everything about your industry isn’t enough. Pretty much anything can be outsourced to someone these days, which means what you do may be the same as what many others do. Technology has made it easier for independent workers to engage with employers anywhere in the world at any time of the day, which has opened up a global freelance market that didn’t previously exist. This means that whilst freelance work is certainly growing, it is also becoming more competitive to secure. Make sure you can clearly articulate your offer and how it is different. It might be important to narrow your focus rather than broaden it. Being a specialist limits your target market, but it also makes you more attractive to a specific set of prospects, whereas being a ‘jack of all trades’ may not be as effective.
  • Work out your finances: Many people think freelance work will provide instant financial rewards with the hourly rate looking much more attractive (on paper) than a full-time employee’s rate. Keep in mind you spend many more hours on your business than anyone is willing to pay. Your clients pay for a service, but the time it takes to run the business may not be billable. Many factors determine how much extra (unbillable) time you spend, however be realistic about how long it might take you to earn your desired salary and ensure you have the means to support yourself until then. The best way to prepare is to build up a salary safety net – you could start small on the side while still working in paid employment or perhaps think about taking a regular part-time role. Even the best freelancers take continuous bread and butter jobs, so they have a reliable regular income source. And remember, if you’re not in full-time paid employment, you won’t be earning any superannuation, so take that into consideration when you’re planning.
  • Manage your time and maintain motivation: With no manager to hold you accountable, you need to maintain your reliability. Doing what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it is the secret to success. Your clients (and your income) will depend on this since freelancers often aren’t paid until they deliver. This can be a difficult adjustment, so be mindful of budgeting and ensuring a constant flow of work to maintain cash flow. You will also need to make sure that every one of your clients feels like they are your top priority. The secret is to implement systems and processes to keep everything on track and don’t overcommit. Depending on your personality, this may or may not be an issue, but if you’re not highly motivated, your income will most certainly suffer.
  • Don’t forget about the boring bits: Running your own business means being prepared to get your hands dirty and handle every aspect of your business including the mundane and parts that may be outside your comfort zone such as finances, marketing, prospecting, sales and administration. Many freelancers make the mistake of thinking that because they are great at what they do, they will have a great business. This is often not the case. You need to be an expert in your area BUT you also need to wear many hats if your business is going to thrive. Down the track you may choose to outsource these areas, but in the beginning you will need to work hard and do it all while building your client base.

The opportunities for freelancers are endless. Most people choose it to provide more flexibility and freedom in their life but it doesn’t come easy. Be prepared to work hard and understand you most likely won’t achieve overnight success. You’ll need to allow some time to build your client base.

Would you like career advice to help you decide whether or not to join the freelance revolution?  If so, please see our Career Counselling Services.

6 things to do before starting a business

Article by Belinda Fuller

6 things to do before starting a businessAs career consultants, we often see clients who’d like to work for themselves. Starting a business can be exciting, but it can also be daunting and confusing. There are so many things to consider and a variety of ways to go about it. Have you thought about the different options? You could start an online or physical business, buy an existing business or franchise, freelance, consult, or contract.

If you’re ready to escape the 9 to 5 grind (and beyond) and map your own future with a business of your own, you might be wondering where to start. The truth is, working for yourself is not for everyone. To ensure success, there is a lot of up front preparation involved before you take the leap. Here’s some things you should consider when starting your own business:

  1. Decide on your why: Starting a business usually involves hard work, long hours, and significantly raised stress levels. Often the freedom and flexibility you desire just isn’t possible in the start-up business phase – particularly if you have added financial pressures where you’re having to work in another job while making the transition. By working out why you’re doing this and what you need to do to make your business work, you’ll be more prepared for the effort involved in making it work.
  2. Decide on the structure: Viable business structures vary from state to state and country to country, and obviously there are tax and other legal implications for different approaches. We advise talking to an expert to find out what’s best for you. Regardless of your structure, you will probably need a registered business name, a dedicated bank account or credit card, and a website and/or some kind of online presence. Comprehensive professional legal advice is usually essential for any professional business.
  3. Do your research: Research your competitors, costs involved, target market, customer needs, your offer, and how you’ll get that offer to market. Businesses need an intimate understanding of their customer needs and pain points, together with an understanding of what’s already available in the market in order to ensure their offer is aimed directly at those requirements.
  4. Establish your finance: Good financial management is critical to ongoing business success. When just starting out, you’ll need to work out how much funding you need initially, and ongoing, where you can get it, and how you will manage it. There are many different sources to consider which could include: personal savings, a loan from a family member or friend, a loan from a bank or other financial institution, financial lease, venture capital investment, and government grant/funding. Don’t forget to factor in all your living expenses and a little ‘fat’ for the inevitable lean times that most small start-ups experience.
  5. Understand your obligations: Again this could involve hiring an expert, or at the very least conducting some fairly in-depth research of your own. Before starting a business there are a raft of obligations you need to understand covering areas such as business registrations, registration of your domain name, intellectual property and/or trademark protection, necessary licences or permits depending on your industry, accounting and taxation obligations, legal requirements, considerations of corporate governance, insurance, and any employee contractual or other considerations.
  6. Network: Whether you’re starting a business from scratch, buying a business or franchise, working as a sole trader, operating a retail store, providing services online or something in between, networking is essential to ensure your long-term success. By developing strong business networks, you will be able to keep up to date on industry and local information, promote your business through new contacts, and learn key skills from other businesses. Research relevant physical events, identify potential referrers or partners, and leverage online networking (LinkedIn in particular). Connecting with like-minded business people to learn from them is also important, and you could even consider seeking out an appropriate mentor to guide you through the initial business set up stages.

Starting a business can be stressful, but it’s also an exciting time that can also be lots of fun. Conducting comprehensive research before starting out, and being super prepared for all the curve balls that will inevitably come your way, is one of the best predictors of success.

Are you unsure if you have what it takes to start your own business? Are you interested in obtaining some career advice? If you would like some direction in deciding whether this is the right future for you, please see our Career Coaching Services.

 

How To Start a Consulting Business

Article by Belinda Fuller

How To Start a Consulting BusinessStarting any business can be daunting but with the use of consultants by more and more companies in Australia, it can be a rewarding and lucrative path. According to the dictionary, Consultants are people who provide expert advice professionally. But being an expert doesn’t guarantee you the work.

As a consultant you need to find your own clients directly, or sub-contract to a larger company that provides the same services as you do. Typically you will need to have multiple clients which means working with a broad range of people and personalities – perhaps with a requirement to suit specific needs of individual clients. So what should you consider before starting?

Legality: Depending on your area of specialisation, there may be certain requirements. These could include certifications, legal or insurance requirements. There are also tax rules around working as a consultant. Research all the legal requirements before you start and engage a lawyer and/or accountant to make sure your business complies with relevant regulations.

Qualifications: Do you need any special qualifications to provide your expert advice? This can be the case in the financial and other regulated industries so find out before you get started. You should also look at industry accreditations or professional memberships as a way of establishing credibility and keeping up to date with what’s going on in your industry.

Lifestyle: Is your lifestyle ready for this change? How organised are you? If you’ve been working in a large organisation, it may be a shock to the system to suddenly be in charge of everything from fixing your email glitches to paying the bills (and making sure the money is coming in). You also don’t get paid for any time off any more – no sick leave, no annual leave and no superannuation. Consider whether your personality and lifestyle can cope with these factors.

Target Market: The best services in the world are no good to anyone if there is no market for them. Work out who is going to pay you for your expertise. Is it individuals, small companies, large organisations, or global corporates? Decide whether the target market that is accessible to you is viable. This might not be a major consideration if your services can be offered online, however if you need to provide a face to face service, this step is vital before you do anything else.

Uniqueness: What is it about your consulting services that will make you stand out? What can you provide your clients that other consultants or organisations cannot? As a consultant, you need to be able to articulate very clearly – both verbally and in writing – why someone would use your services. This includes developing collateral such as websites and brochures as well as deciding on your core offer and messaging.

Company Structure: You may want to start small – with just you in a home-based office. Check your own local laws about operating a business from a domestic location, but think about your structure up front. Are you going to hire staff down the track? If so where will they work and what will they do? Can you hire someone to do the administration work while you provide the specialist expertise or would you rather hire another ‘specialist’?

Networking: Networking is key to success as a small business owner. As a consultant it is even more important. You need to make sure you have a consistent flow of work – for that to happen, you should build and maintain relationships with current and potential clients.

Billing: Decide on your rates and stick to them. Be careful of charging too little because your business won’t be viable longer term, but likewise if you charge too much, you may not attract any clients. Finding the perfect middle ground can be difficult but one way to decide is to research what your competitors are charging and base your decision around being competitive. Make sure you are comparing ‘apples with apples’. Don’t forget to consider your expenses and if you are going to incur any additional expenses during the course of a project, provide your client with an estimate up front so they are prepared. Consider charging prior to commencing the work or in instalments if projects are going to be lengthy. Alternatively, specify time-frames for work completion with the clients so you’re not waiting for months to get paid. Determine all of this before you start so you can explain your terms of business up front to new clients.

Are you thinking about starting a consulting business but not sure where to start? Are you worried your personality may not be suited to consulting?

If you would like personalised help from a Career Coach to evaluate your options, please see our Career Counselling and Coaching Services which can be provided over the phone or in person in locations across Australia.

5 Questions to Ask Before Becoming a Freelancer

Article by Belinda Fuller

How to Beome a FreelancerMany people we talk to dream of becoming a consultant or freelancer in their specialist line of work. There are countless things to consider before making the leap into the freelance world with many who’ve already achieved success providing advice for free – just Google becoming a freelancer to see what I mean. But what are the first steps to success?

Freelancing is a great option for many people wanting to escape the grind of a regular full-time job, but it isn’t for everyone. This month we take a look at the basic things to consider before quitting your secure job to work for yourself. Start by asking yourself the following questions:

Question # 1: Why do I want to become a freelancer? It is important to understand your underlying reasons to determine if this is the right decision. If you’re doing it because you hate your job or boss, you want to work less hours or earn more money – it’s probably not the right decision. While, it’s ok to have long term goals of working less, earning more and not having to answer to anyone, in the short term this is rarely the case. You need to be very good at what you do and be passionate about doing that for others on a day to day basis in order to succeed as a freelancer – if that’s you, then read on.

Question # 2: What am I going to offer my clients? You’re great at what you do and know a tonne about your area or industry but pretty much anything can be outsourced to someone these days. That means, what you do may be the same as what many others do. Do you really have enough expertise to instil confidence that clients will pay you for that know-how? If you think you do, decide what you will offer and create a brand/identity that sets you apart from your competition. Make sure you can clearly articulate your offer and how it stands out. It might be important at this point to narrow your focus rather than broaden it. Being a specialist limits your target market, but it also makes you more attractive to a specific set of prospects. Being a ‘Jack of all Trades’ is often not the most effective road to success.

Question # 3: Am I willing to do everything? Many freelancers make the mistake of thinking because they are great at what they do, they will have a great business. This is often not the case. You need to be prepared to get your hands dirty and handle every aspect of your business including the mundane and parts that may be way outside your comfort zone such as finances, marketing, prospecting, sales and administration. You need to be an expert in your area BUT you also need to wear many hats if your business is going to thrive. Down the track you may choose to outsource some or all of these areas, but in the beginning you will probably need to work hard and do it all while building your client base.

Question # 4: Is now the right time financially? Many people think freelance work is going to provide instant financial rewards with a freelancer’s hourly rate looking much more attractive (on paper) than a full-time employee’s. Keep in mind you will spend many more hours on your business than anyone is willing to pay. Your clients pay for a service, but the time it takes you to sell to them and generally run your business may not be billable. Many factors come into determining how much extra (unbillable) time you spend on each project, however be realistic about how long it might take you to earn your desired salary and ensure you have the means to support yourself until then. Alternatively, you could start small while still working in paid employment – but don’t compromise either job for the other with half hearted efforts.

Question # 5: Am I motivated enough? With no boss to hold you accountable, you need to do what you said you’d do, when you said you’d do it. Your clients (and your income) will depend on it because usually freelancers don’t get paid until they deliver, or at least until part of the project is completed. This is a difficult adjustment for many people. Understand you will need to be more mindful of budgeting and you will also need to ensure a constant flow of work to maintain cash flow. Depending on your personality, this may or may not be an issue, but if you’re not highly motivated, your income will most certainly suffer.

In today’s technically advanced world, the opportunities for freelancers are endless. Most people choose it to provide more flexibility and freedom in their life. But it doesn’t come easy. Be prepared to work hard and understand you most likely won’t achieve overnight success. You’ll need to allow some time to build your client base.

Would you like help from a Career Advisor to determine whether or not freelancing is the future for you? If so, please click here to view our Career Counselling Services.